Ebell’s CEI colleague Christopher Horner also joined the Trump EPA transition team. A long-time climate-change denier, Horner was lauded by coal industry CEOs in 2015 for his work at the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E)—another group that works to discredit climate science—where he coined the word “Climategate” and sued to get the private emails of environmental scientists while accusing them of fraud. Horner personally was paid by Alpha Resources, one of the largest US coal companies, according to Alpha’s recent bankruptcy filings, the Intercept reported.

Another transition team member, David Schnare, was a three-decade-long employee of the EPA, then went to E&E where he became well known for suing universities for climate scientists’ personal emails.

Department of Energy head Rick Perry was a big supporter of the industry’s “Clean Coal Initiative” as the governor of Texas, and pushed to fast-track more coal plants in the state, after receiving over $600,000 in donations from the TXU, the utility company behind the plan. Suzie Jaworowski, the former head of government relations for Sunshine Coal and Trump’s campaign manager in Indiana, has also joined the energy department.

Deep pockets

Big-name donors from the coal industry include Joe Craft, the CEO of Alliance Resource Partners, who co-chaired a $1,000-per-plate fundraiser for Trump in Oklahoma last September, and gave a combined $1.85 million to pro-Trump and anti-Hillary Clinton super-PACs this year, according to Opensecrets, a non-partisan groups that tracks donations and lobbying funds. He was awarded with two seats on the inauguration platform.

Murray Energy donated $1.9 million during the presidential election. Bob Murray told Fox News Trump called him shortly after his election victory, and said “I love you, man.”

In fact, as the US’s largest coal companies hit hard times they continued to spend millions to fund politicians and lobbying groups hoping to turn the tide. Five of the top US companies that went bankrupt since 2015 have paid $100 million to lobbyists and politicians in the past decade (pdf, p. 1), according to a 2016 report from the Western Values Project, which represents residents of the Rocky Mountain states.

Despite the money spent, and the vows to dismantle clean power plant rules, few but Trump and a handful of mining companies are predicting that coal jobs are coming back, because the mining industry is automating and power generators are phasing out coal-burning plants.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.